Resolutions or Intentions?

I used to go absolutely mental with New Year’s resolutions, making long lists only to inevitably fail after a few months of miserably trudging through my grand plans. Then I would tack those failed resolutions onto next year’s list and so on.

The initial excitement of setting goals always wears off and is replaced by a thick layer of guilt. For me, the appeal of resolutions are overwhelmingly tempting. I love the possibility of transformation and the New Year is a perfect fresh start, the cut-and-dry chance to start over. But is it healthy to want to overhaul my life every single year? I know it’s certainly not realistic to set sweeping fantasies like “lose 20 pounds,” “work out 7 days a week,” or “write for two hours every day,” yet that’s what I always do — go big or go home, right? Too bad I always end up “going home” because I haven’t allowed any wiggle room for that pesky thing called reality. Shit happens.

2014 was chock full of roller-coaster life moments. The birth of my son and ensuing baby-blues and sleep deprivation changed everything, including my approach to resolutions. I decided to set intentions instead, to be easy on myself for once.

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Intention: a thing intended; an aim or plan.

My only intentions for 2015 were to put my health (physical and mental) first, read 30 books and to get an article published. I’m happy to report I accomplished each one and experienced the best year of my life to boot!


I tapped into the transformation I’d always longed for: I began resolving past wounds, I discovered meditation and Buddhism, art made its way back into my life. Most importantly, I came to terms with the reality of my mortality and that life is so much more than my temporary appearance, the temporary things I own, and that my existence is much too temporary to let other people determine my happiness.

I’m not saying I’m perfect or that all my problems are fixed — far from it. Perfection would mean no more growth, and growth is what life is all about. I still slip back into old negative habits, because that’s good ole reality. But now when there’s a bump in my plans it just means I have to be flexible and open-minded instead of shutting down.  I just want to put it out there for anyone who similarly approaches the big, shiny New Year with rose-colored glasses.

My intentions for 2016 are similar to 2015’s but a bit more broad:

  • Continue practicing radical self-care. Emotional hygiene, if you will. That Hummingbird Life has a great archive of self-care inspiration.
  • Read, read, read. My intention is 52 books since I easily hit that this year.
  • Do things that scare me. More on that later.
  • Express myself through writing and art minus any perfectionism.
  • Be transparent. I love the definition:

Transparent: allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen.

My transparency has so far earned me some odd questions and judgy looks and I’ve survived all of them without crumbling. 🙂

What’s your take on resolutions or intentions? Leave me a comment and let me know of any goals you have for 2016!